Design is […] Speaker Series

Talks on the uncharted territories of design & creativity.

What do conversation, inclusivity, virtual spaces, and ethics have to do with design? Everything.

Introducing Design Is […], a speaker series that brings respected innovators from a broad range of fields to Google for a public monthly talk to engage in a discussion on the future of design and creativity from a variety of perspectives. As the field of design and the notion of creativity continue to expand and change, we want to create a space for a dialogue about supporting the creative process, ethical design and designing a future that we all want to be a part of.

Follow coverage of the series here for details on upcoming speakers, video (posted two weeks after each event), and information on how to RSVP for future talks in the series.

Speaker Schedule

Design is [Immersive] 
Marsha Haverty, Autodesk
Meaning Modes in Design
September 28, 6pm 2017 | Launchpad Space, Downtown San Francisco

Meaning emerges as an actor engages a design. What the engagement feels like varies greatly depending on the situation. We’ll look at qualities that support different meaning modes of a design, or the amount and kind of attention, and the cadence and precision of behavior a design requires, to ensure our designs — whether they involve gesturing to holograms, tapping screens, speaking to a voice UI, or any other combination — are immersive in the right ways to feel new, yet natural.

Register here

Upcoming Talks

Design is [Language] · Joscelin Cooper & Maggie Stanphill, Google · October 2017

Design is [Vision] · Ratna Desai, Google & Friends · November 2017

More details and speakers to be announced soon.

Past Talks

(Video coming soon)

Design is [Smart] 
Jess Holbrook and Josh Lovejoy, Google
Human-centered machine learning
August 31, 6pm 2017 | Launchpad Space, Downtown San Francisco

Machine learning will cause us to rethink, restructure, displace, and consider new possibilities for virtually every experience we build. In the Google UX community, we’ve started an effort called “human-centered machine learning” (HCML) to help focus and guide that conversation. During this talk, we’ll explain how we look across products at Google to see how ML can stay grounded in human needs while solving them in unique ways only possible through ML. Our goal is for every UXer to understand core ML concepts, how to integrate ML into the UX utility belt, and ensure ML and AI are built in an inclusive way.

Watch the highlight video on YouTube

Design is [Simulation] 
July 19, 2017 6pm-10pm | Neuehouse Hollywood

Demos open at 4pm, Panel Discussion moderated by Daniel Perlin at 6:30pm

Demos from Winslow Porter —, Gabo Arora — Lightshed, Jess Engel — Within, Peter Flaherty — CalArts/Flaherty Pictures, Ari Kuschnir — Mssngpeces, The Nature Conservancy — THIS IS OUR FUTURE, The team at Daydream.

For the writer and Philosopher Vilem Flusser, the definition of the verb “to design” includes “to concoct something,” or “to simulate.” Taking cues from this, Design is [Simulation] digs into the core of the word “Design” itself to unpack a platform for discussion of its potential for social good through “simulation.” Focusing in further into the field of Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality (VR/AR), we can engage with experience designs that utilize simulation with the goals of direct, positive impact on people’s lives. At Design Is [Simulation], Google in collaboration with NeueHouse is inviting a group of experts from the field of VR and AR to share how they are applying these technologies to evolve experiential design and have a positive impact in the world.

Watch highlight video on YouTube

Design is [Ethical] 
 Jessica Helfand and Allison Arieff
 The Next Stage
 July 13, 6pm 2017 | Launchpad Space, Downtown San Francisco

Design is now recognized as a decisive advantage in countless industries and a boon to innovation in all fields. But what is design, really? Is it a process or a practice? A product or a platform? And, if arguably, it defies such easy classification, then who wants and needs it, produces and consumes it?

In an intimate conversation on July 13, we will focus on the human characteristics that both influence and are impacted by design and which frame, among other things, our perceptions of loyalty, credibility, even leadership. Can design convey false authority? Do the things we make result in unintended consequences? How can we reconcile need against greed, personal voice against public choice? We hope you will join us.

This month, we’re disrupting our normal format and hosting this talk as an intimate conversation with selected attendees from the design community. This model requires only one thing, and that is being willing to listen: not to the biggest person with the loudest voice, the deepest pockets, or the strongest opinion — but to ourselves, and to each other.

(stay tuned video coming soon)

Watch the video on YouTube

Design is [Multicultural]

Senongo Akpem, Pixel Fable
Culturally Responsive Design
June 29, 2017, 6pm

It’s a given today that design responds to our devices, locations, and preferences. But do we expect it to be responsive to cultural differences? Senongo will talk about factors that can affect how design is perceived in places with different cultural norms, as well as how visual and cultural diversity can be built into every stage of our projects. He will also talk about steps we can take to design for a worldwide audience, in a wholehearted and occasionally subversive way.

Senongo Akpem is a design director, illustrator, and the founder of Pixel Fable, a collection of interactive Afrofuturist stories. His writing on culture and design has been published in A List Apart, Smashing Magazine, and Net Magazine. Senongo’s work focuses on digital storytelling, transmedia, and cross-cultural design issues. He loves sci-fi.

Design is [Helpful]

Nandini Stocker, Google
The Speech Interface
March 30, 2017

From Star Trek’s Computer to Jarvis and Samantha, Sci-Fi has promised us a world integrated with seamless voice interactions — where speech technology is synonymous with artificial intelligence. Yet, our current reality has a lot of catching up to do. Does anyone doubt that we’ll get there eventually? What’s slowing us down? This multi-media presentation will explore these gaps and identify what’s getting in the way of realizing such a fantastical future.

Part of Google’s Conversation Design standards team, Nandini has created voice experiences for Google’s 50+ business units, in 60+ languages and 120+ countries. She is passionate about helping people find help and making voice interfaces more accessible. Nandini also believes the secret to realizing our potential for speech technology in human-to-computer interactions is by honoring the core, evolved rules of human-to-human communication.

Design is [Human]

Gretchen Anderson, PG&E
Human at the Core, Human at Scale
April 27, 6pm · 301 Howard Street, 4th Floor, San Francisco, CA 94105

Design has taken “human-centered” to heart in how we design products and services. But as we grow our practice within larger organizations, or as we serve larger markets, how can we avoid losing our human touch?

Gretchen Anderson is head of design for Pacific Gas & Electric, helping to build the utility of the future. Gretchen spent the first part of her career in design consulting for firms like frog, Cooper, LUNAR, and Punchcut. Recently, she served as the Vice President of product for GreatSchools and consulted on the design of the hardware and software of a next-generation surgical system. Gretchen is a Bay Area native who left only long enough to get a bachelor’s degree from Harvard in history and literature.

Kai Haley, Interaction Designer & Sarah Wilson, Creative Lead @ Google
Show your support

Clapping shows how much you appreciated Design is […]’s story.